Running of the Nudes

Flesh in the afternoon

| July 8, 2004

To most Europeans, summer in Pamplona means tourists, tans, and the legendary running of the bulls. But animal rights activists have created a 'Human Race' that would make Hemingway spill his mojito: The Running of the Nudes, a naked jog through the streets of Pamplona to protest violence against Spain's beleaguered bulls. The event, begun in 2002 and taking place annually on July 5, features a diverse group of animal rights activists and entertains tourists and locals alike with an in-the-buff alternative to the city's traditional bovine bluster.

Though over 40,000 bulls are slaughtered in Spanish rings each year, the majority of Spaniards show no interest in bullfighting, viewing it as a barbaric relic of older, more impoverished times. Hapless tourists, many of whom leave their first fight in disgust, are the ones who subsidize bullfighting and allow the brutal tradition to continue.

A traditional precursor to the bullfighting season, the running of the bulls is a highly stressful event for the animals involved. As the terrified bulls slip madly across the pavement, for which their hooves are hopelessly ill suited, they are teased and tormented by tail-pulling, stick-wielding spectators. The bulls are not the only ones placed at risk, though, as onlookers and runners are often gored or trampled by the bulls, sometimes fatally. Once the bulls reach the ring, they are horrifically killed through repeated and prolonged stabbing and cutting.

The new nonviolent event is a favorite among locals. The activists, many of whom are Spanish themselves, are greeted with cheers and laughter. One runner relates that two old men, locals from Pamplona, 'Thanked us for being so brave. They said that the bullfights were disgusting and needed to stop and that we had the right idea.' The event is certainly preferable to its predecessor in one respect: both spectators and participants are less likely to get gored.
-- Brendan Themes

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